Released: May 2011
Publisher: Little, Brown for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult - Contemporary
When Alex falls for the charming new boy at school, Cole, a handsome, funny, sports star who adores her, she can't believe she's finally found her soul mate-someone who truly understands her and loves her for who she really is.
At first, Alex is blissfully happy. Sure, Cole seems a little jealous of her relationship with her best friends, Zack and Bethany, but what guy would want his girlfriend spending all of her time with another boy? But as the months pass, Alex can no longer ignore Cole's small put-downs, pinches, or increasingly violent threats. As Alex struggles to come to terms with the sweet boyfriend she fell in love with and the boyfriend whose "love" she no longer recognizes, she is forced to choose - between her "true love" and herself.
Jennifer Brown became one of my 'must' authors with her powerful and thought-provoking debut novel, Hate List. When I heard her sophomore novel was coming out and she was tackling another tough subject, I was estastic because for some reason the darker the subject, the more I'm drawn to it. I decided a long time ago to never question why I love tough issue books, but I do.
There's no doubt that Jennifer Brown is an awesome writer. She creates these well fleshed out characters and her writing puts you right there with them. Alex, our main girl, was easy to like. She was genuine and a pretty level-headed. Even though her home life wasn't the best - dead mom, dad there but not there, absent older sister, and an annoying younger sister who was severely pissed off at the world, she had two really awesome best friends, Zack and Bethany. The personalities of all three of them together was a perfect example of actual friendship. Sometimes I felt like I was right there with them, going over Vacay Day. And I have to say, Zack is way up there on some of my favorite characters. In such a serious book, you wouldn't expect comic relief, but Zack brings it to the table.
Then there was Cole. Knowing that this book is about an abusive relationship, it's hard to like the abuser even when his true colors haven't shown yet. I did understand the first initial attraction that Alex had towards Cole, and how he drew her in. Tackling a subject like this is difficult one, and Brown handled it well showing you how someone who is a victim sometimes can't find a way out. But sometimes during the book, it seemed things were a bit unbalanced. The only way I can figure out how to explain it is that when it came to relationship with Alex and Cole, there was a lot of telling instead of showing. Feelings and things were kind of summed up instead of allowing me to really see why Alex felt the need to stay with Cole. That is probably the only thing that struck me a bit odd because when it came to Alex's life with her friends and family, I got them completely.
I'm glad there are authors out there like Jennifer Brown who will take on these topics and show you how easily you can slip into someone else. Reading some of the scenes that Alex went through were hard. Knowing what Cole was, you just want to jump into the book, shake Alex, and take her away from the situation. I definitely would recommend this one to anyone especially those that might find themselves in a situation just like Alex did.